Artist Feature :: Jamie Grill Atlas
Being a working mom isn’t easy. Combining “working” and “momming” is an even bigger challenge. Somehow Blend photographer Jamie Grill Atlas makes it look easy, and more than that, makes it look beautiful. Jamie and her producer Marisa are both working moms to babies and toddlers and have tailored their business and busy schedules around their kids and families. They’ve shot through pregnancies, take nursing breaks, and seamlessly blend behind the scenes with what is in front of the lens. What precipitates is imagery that captures an honest and authentic look at kids, motherhood, and family. A true testament to modern feminism, Jamie and Marisa make being a ‘mom’trepreneur a success.
In this month’s Artist Feature, We catch up with Jamie to ask just how she does it.
Blend (B): What is your favorite thing about your work set up bridging the gap between ‘Mom’ life and ‘Work’ life?
Jamie Grill Atlas (JG): I love being involved in every little part of my kids’ days as much as possible. Basically, I’m very nosey and I don’t like to miss a thing! I like that I make their lunch most days, and I kiss most of their boo-boos. And I love the flip side of that- that they get to witness my career first hand and see me in a role outside of our family life. My father is also a Blend Photographer, and I grew up on his set, watching him work, holding reflectors, modeling for him and all of that. I feel lucky that I got to see so much of him doing something he loves – it’s fun to be on the other side of that now. And I think creativity breeds creativity, so maybe they’ll develop a passion for making things, too, which I’d love for them.
B: After you became a mom, what changed the most in your life as a photographer in comparison to your time before?
JG: The biggest change, and challenge, for me, is that creativity needs space – you need time to experience things that inspire you and you need time to let your mind wander – and there just isn’t the same personal space available anymore. Just on a logistical level, motherhood really cramps your personal time. And even when I’m able to carve out time to work, my brain is simply crowded by constant thoughts about other little beings. Plus, I’m exhausted! It’s not the easiest brain space to be creative in. So I’ve had to learn how to keep being creative even without quite as much fuel…which is probably a good lesson, overall.
B: How do you balance your work and home life?
JG: The key to that work-life balance, the holy grail of modern motherhood, is to scrap it all together, to simply come to terms with the fact that there is no such thing as balance. It’s more of a pendulum – you sway between the two roles, and if you can find a good rhythm in the back and forth that makes you feel happy and centered, then you’re killing it! Sometimes I do a great job with my career, and sometimes I nail motherhood – sometimes it happens in the same day, even! But never all at once. It’s important for women, whether they’re mothers or not, to remember that we can’t be all things to all people all of the time. In an essay in the New York Times about Michelle Obama, Rashida Jones talked about women “feeling like we’re ‘too much.’ We’re complicated; we want to be so many things. I want to be a boss and also be vulnerable. I want to be outspoken and respected, but also sexy and beautiful…[Michelle Obama’s legacy] will be that she was the first first lady to show women that they don’t have to choose. That it’s okay to be everything.” What I’d add to that is that being everything is messy. And that’s okay too.
B: From an outside perspective, it seems like you get the best of both worlds- your working career and being able to spend a ton of time with your kids as they grow up. Is this an accurate assumption and what do you find most challenging?
JG: I do totally get the best of both worlds – I feel very lucky for that! But that means I also get the messiest of both worlds, the most chaotic of both worlds, the hardest of both worlds. It makes for hectic days, and sometimes the frazzled feeling gets the better of me. But parenting is actually a lot like production work – the creative energy you need is similar for both, and the daily routine of making a big mess and tidying up at the end of the day is similar for both – so it’s actually a good fit for trying to work and parent simultaneously.
B: Do you have any childcare help on set? Do you keep a routine?
JG: I’m lucky to have a lot of help – I have a Rubik’s Cube of different caretakers who help out throughout the week. For a long time, my mom and daughter were both on set for every shoot…work-life balance is one thing, but having your mom at work with you is a whole other level! Then Marisa’s mom helped out when her daughter was on set at one point, and then for a while we had my infant son and Marisa’s baby daughter together with a babysitter we all love. It’s been wacky. There were a number of shoots when no one could use the bathrooms – there was an infant napping in each one, because it was the only place that could be totally dark and semi-quiet. Our kids have a routine to a point – there’s a foundation of a schedule, with a lot of flexibility and exceptions. That part is a lot like producing a photo shoot. You plan, plan, plan…and then let things flow however they may when the time comes.
B: Advice for working moms who blend their professional and personal life?
JG: I don’t think I’ve quite figured it out enough to lend advice! But my message is the same for all mothers, whether they work or not, and all women, whether they’re mothers or not: be easy on yourself. I have that taped above my desk, because I need the reminder, too. It’s messy business, this parenting stuff! It’s okay if you’re a hot mess sometimes, as long as you convince yourself that the mess is part of the experience.
See some of Jamie’s favorite ‘working mom’ images in this board: The Juggle Is Real!.
Jamie’s advertising stock photography collection is extensive. You can find her Blend collection right here on our website or get in touch with Jamie through jamiegrill.com. If social media is your jam, find her on FB and Instagram.